Real Name: Jergal Zadh
Identity/Class: Exiled Demon-God
Occupation: Dimensional ruler, would-be conqueror of earth.
Group Membership: None
Affiliations: Cleolanthe (agent on earth), his demon horde, and the Elder Gods (see comments)
Enemies: Conan the Barbarian (enemy), Cleolanthe (betrays him), the Elder Gods (see comments)
Known Relatives: none.
Aliases: none known
Base of Operations: after his exile one of multiple unnamed otherdimensional realm, a temple that is now in ruins amongst the hills of Cimmeria was formerly his seat of worship eons ago.
First Appearance: Conan the Barbarian#152 (November, 1983) "The Dark Blade of Jergal Zadh"
Powers: Jergal Zadhs powers appear to be somewhat limited to the plane he is currently inhabiting, but even though currently exiled from earth he has demonstrated the ability to transport humans and demon hordes from his own dimension to ours as well as telepathically communicate with his minions across the dimensional gap. By peering into a netherworldly flame Jergal Zadh can closely watch events on earth. Also Jergal Zadhs mata hari Cleolanthe possessed several powers that her master likely bestowed upon her. She mentioned lifetimes and was apparently immortal until she betrayed her master and he revoked this boon. She also possessed the ability to project beams of energy from her eyes which would coalesce into various deadly phantasmal threats such as pterodactyl-like creatures, dragons, hordes of demon-priests, etc. Upon being slain these creatures would usually fade away into nothingness. It is unknown but very likely that Jergal Zadh forged the magical Dark Blade which was found in the hand of an idol in his image humans once worshiped..
History: (BTS) - Eons before our story begins the Elder Gods exile Jergal Zadh from earth. It is unknown if he brought Cleolanthe with him from earth at this time or accquired her later.
(Conan the Barbarian#152) - Conan is attacked by four Cimmerian hill bandits as Jergal Zadh and Cleolanthe watch from the demons realm via his netherwordly flame. Jergal Zadh reveals it is prophesied Conan will be a king one day and tells Cleolanthe of his plan to make Conan his soulless slave and use him to conquer earth and once more make it "the diadem in my crown of realms".
In order to further this plan Jergal Zadh sends Cleolanthe to earth and as Conan is riding along after dispatching his attackers he hears a scream and sees a winged lizard creature with the appropriately half-clothed Cleolanthe in its clutches. Conan makes short work of the creature, but breaks his swordblade in the process. Cleolanthe tells him he knows where he can find a replacement nearby and as the two ride off together the winged monsters carcass fades from sight.
As night falls Conan and Cleolanthe come upon a ruined temple where mankind once bowed prostrate before the altar of Jergal Zadh. Cleolanthe directs Conan as to where to find the blade and, perhaps as a sign that Conan has learned a few things in the 150 or so issues of his own comic, as he takes the Dark Blade from the idol of Jergal Zadhs hands he mentions that he hopes the statue doesnt suddenly spring to life. The statue itself is harmless but Cleolanthe uses her eye-beams to create a horde of demon priests armed with swords, clubs, and axes. Conan lays into them and is just starting to worry they will bring him down by sheer force of numbers when suddenly the enchanted blade springs to life eagerly helping him to slay his attackers. After the battle Conan is suddenly swept by a feeling of cold and weakness. Cleolanthe comforts him and helps him out of the temple admonishing him not to lose hold of the magic sword.
As Conan huddles in a blanket Cleolanthe builds a fire. The barbarian has never felt like this in his life, freezing with cold and barely able to stand on his feet, and says so. Cleolanthe murmurs that she wishes there were something she could do to ease his sufferings and Jergal Zadh appears to her in a vision. The demon reminds her that of the grisly fate that will befall her is she disobeys. Conan must wield the sword three times in one night for Jergal Zadh to obtain his soul. Suitably chastised Cleolanthe rises as Conan sleeps and creates another phantasm with her eye-beams, this time a giant dragon. Conan awakens surprised to see a dragon in his native Cimmeria though he has heard tales of them living in the jungles of Kush. Conan attacks the beast with the magical blade but his blows seem to have little to no effect. Already weakened Conan doesnt have the strength to rise after being struck down by the dragons lashing tail. Conan tells Cleolanthe to run for it just before the blade suddenly drags him upright and continues the battle unleashing a storm of sword blows that are not Conans but its own. With each one struck the blade grows brighter even as his strength continues to wane. The Dragon defeated Conan once more feels weakened. Amazed by his courage Cleolanthe pulls Conan to her. This gets Jergal Zadh plenty mad, quoth he: "That faithless slattern! How dare she betray me with that hill-bred savage!" Kind of makes you wonder how much deeper their relationship went than demon-master and witch-slave, eh?
After some - - ah, recreation Conan once again slumbers and Cleolanthe can hear Jergal Zadh raging against her in her mind. She knows each time the barbarian has fought it was under the belief that he was protecting her. Conan is a good and courageous man whom she has fallen in love with. She fears Jergal Zadhs wrath but refuses to harm Conan further with her phantasms. Jergal Zadh summons his demon horde and send then to earth to force Conan to fight with the blade on final and fatal time. Conan leaps up to fight once more despite Cleolanthes protests and so she zaps him into unconsciousness and then blasts the demon horde out of existence. Taking the magic blade Cleolanthe drops it off of a cliff into a watery tarn.
Conan awakens feeling his strength returned to him. Cleolanthe tells hm everything, saying that instead of doing as her master commanded she fell in love with Conan. Conan asks if she is free of him now and she replies that she is, but the eldritch link that bound her to him is severed and therefor she is doomed to a fate she should have reaped a thousand years ago. As she rapidly ages and turns to dust Cleolanthe begs that Conan remember her as she was when they were lovers. Conan rides off once more as Jergal Zadh rages in his netherworld, vowing revenge.
Comments: Created by Michael Fleisher and John Buscema
This story paints Conan in a very trusting and even somewhat thickheaded light. It isnt unusual that Conan rushes into save a strange girl from a monster, since thats his whole idiom, but to actually go to a ruined temple in order to obtain a magical blade once wielded by a demon seems a little out of character. Then he is attacked three times in one night by supernatural menaces and doesnt make a connection to all this happening after he met Cleolanthe. Despite all this it is a good tale with dynamite art and some pretty cool looking demons.
Jergal Zadh promises revenge but as far as I know he never appears again. What became of the Dark Blade? After the cataclysm that destroyed the Hyborian world it could be at the bottom of an ocean, lost in Subterranea somewhere, or even laying on a hillside in Ireland or Britain. Sounds like a Doctor Strange story waiting to happen if you ask me!
There has always been some confusion around the phrase the Elder Gods which is used throughout the Conan series and Marvel comics in general. In this tale it is said Jergal Zadh was banished from earth because the Elder Gods were jealous of his power, but since he was being worshipped by man most of the big name Marvel Elder Gods like Set and Cthon had already been banished from earth by then so it might not have been them, but the Elder Gods of the Hyborian era such as Crom, Mitra, and Asura. However the phrase Elder Gods is often used to refer to demonic or alien beings in the Conan series as well so it is uncertain if Jergal Zadh was banish by contemporaries such as other demon-gods like the NGarai or if he was exiled by more manlike gods .
Jergal Zadhs current dwelling place is referred to as a netherworld and could easily de one of the many interconnected underworlds guys like Mephisto, Asmodeus, Satan, and Thog hang out in. None of the other worlds in Jergal Zadhs "crown of realms" are ever seen. They could possibly be other netherworlds or planets like earth with mortal inhabitants/worshipers.
Interestingly, the story of Jergal Zadh and Cleolanthe is VERY similar to the story of Asmodeus and Tabicantra in Ghost Rider II#53, just two years earlier, also by Michael Fleisher...hmm.
by Greg O'Driscoll
Clarifications: Jergal Zadh should not be confused with...
Jergal Zadhs demon horde was sent to force Conan to use the Drak Blade in combat the final and fatal time when Cleolanthe refused to send another of her phantasms to attack Conan. Ugly bunch of freaks arent they?
Cleolanthe communicates with her infernal master as Conan rests in an unnatural sleep. Described as a witch and at least a thousand years old Cleolanthe possessed the power to project eye-beams which formed deadly life-like phantasms or rays of destructive force.
Conan the Barbarian#152 (November, 1983) - Michael Fleisher (writer), John Buscema (pencils), Ernie Chan (inks), Louise Jones (editor)
Last updated: 08/02/02
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